Review: Trust Us, This is All Made Up

Director: Alex Karpovsky
Producers: Alex Karpovsky, David Modigliani, Adam Roffman, Asaf Ronen, Jessica Wolfson
Starring: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski
MPAA Rating:Not Yet Rated
Running time: 83 min.

Here’s an interesting movie that could actually stand to come in a DVD series of about 10 (or more) volumes. Because in reality this isn’t a movie at all. It’s not even really a documentary. It’s essentially just a camera going to a performance and capturing what happens on stage. But this isn’t a play or a musical. It’s an hour long improv session that I want to see happen again. And again. And again.

Two performers (David Pasquesi and T.J. Jagodowski) stand on a nearly empty stage in front of a live audience. They look deeply into one another’s eyes for a few moments; presumably to “get into the vibe.” Then one of them begins speaking. Then the other responds and back and forth and so on. The interesting thing is that the dialogue is completely spontaneous. There is no planning and no script. What emerges is a one act play of comedy or drama or horror (depending on which night you happen to see this one of a kind act). And it is completely fascinating and engaging.

So this is sort of like watching an extended version of “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”. The two performers make up a completely unique, narrative story that spans almost an hour. For this film, the story revolves around a softball team having management problems and ends up going to some pretty ridiculous lengths to overcome their perceived weaknesses after meeting a stranger in a bar who can “fix” things. Being that this is all done by only two guys with no props (other than a couple of chairs) and no script you might think this would be a bit on the messy side or even boring. Far from it. As the references from past lines emerge and the characters of the story begin to develop and take on a life of their own, the story is both completely sensical, entertaining, funny and surprisingly fairly meaty.

The two actors involved are clearly trained in the art of improv and have obviously had lots of practice. The two not only are able to seamlessly transfer their persona from one character to the next at the drop of the proverbial hat, but they are both able to leap into a character that the other performer had just created mere moments before and continue that character’s story without a hitch. Even if the story taking shape isn’t interesting or fun (which it most certainly is!), the entertainment value of watching these two actors pull off this kind of improv is worth the price of admission alone.

The film does take about 10 or 15 minutes in the beginning to introduce us to the actors: their history, their education and experience and their relationship with one another. This is really the only complaint I had about the movie. Sure we need to set up who these guys are and get the audience to understand that what they’re doing is truly unique and make it very clear that their performance is completely made up and unscripted, but it could’ve been done in about half the time. Watching them go separate ways the day before that night’s performance and wander the town looking for inspiration gets a little tedious and slow. If you’re going to spend ninety percent of your movie with the characters on stage, why not make your movie spend ninety-five percent of the movie about that and cut the needlessness in the beginning. A very minor gripe, but it’s five ot ten minutes we don’t really need or even care about.

I did like watching the actors review and re-hash their performance in their minds afterwards. As they sit in the dressing room following the performance, the two have a quick conversation about what they just did. Did the characters make sense? Did you see what I was going for there? Should we have done that or this? Did I screw up the name of the guy from the beginning of the story? Etceteras, etceteras. Watching them learn from their mistakes and praise their strengths of the performance was a neat cap to the show – something the live audience didn’t get to see.

So what is most interesting is the exact thing I want to see more of; much more. As these guys do this night after night after night and each show is completely unique from the last, I want to see another performance. I want to see what these guys do next. In this film, the performance happens to be fairly comedic. It is laugh out loud funny at several turns. But apparently on many nights it isn’t particularly funny. I imagine most of the time comedy naturally sets in with an improv performance such as this, but on occasion we get a really heartfelt drama or maybe something that is actually quite terrifying. So as I said in the opening statement above, I want this camera crew to follow these guys around for about a month and release a film or DVD of several performances. As it is all made up (trust them), it will never get old.

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Jandy Hardesty

Good improv is really great. I've only been to a couple of improv shows (and they were the more standard, short-skit type like Who's Line), but it was fun. I should go to more. And I'll definitely keep an eye out for this film. Sounds awesome.


TJ and Dave are the masters … just marvellous